We walked in around 5 p.m. on a Sunday night and there was already a long line to the counter. One of the servers invited us to sit at a table and take some time to look at the menu before waiting in line so we did so. The menu didn't seem to have much of a theme. It was all vegetarian while everything can be made vegan so that is good. But, the choices ranged from pizza, burgers, and hot dogs to Indian dosas. I immediately felt like this place lacked direction.
I wanted to start with an elixir, but it wasn't at all clear as to what was in each one or what they tasted like. When I inquired to the server, she didn't know either. So, the owner came over and told me not to choose by taste or ingredients, but rather by what I need at this moment. Okay, I was immediately transported to hippie land. I was open to that, but worried I'd choose something I didn't like and for $7 per drink, I didn't want to take a chance. But, I guess I had to.
After a bit, we walked up to the counter and placed our order. We ordered an appetizer, two drinks, and two entrees and were a bit surprised that the total was $52. That seemed a bit pricey for a seat-yourself cafe.
We took a seat near the window and waited for our food. They brought out the drinks first. I ordered the Expressed Heart (was I in Cafe Gratitude??), which was described as, "heart cordial, chrysocolla angelica - throat chakra." Well, I guess I didn't need a throat chakra because I really disliked it. It was watery and didn't have a pleasant taste. They let me order a different one and it wasn't much different. I gave up at that point. -1
We ordered the baked vegan spinach and artichoke fondue to start, which was served with pita bread. This fondue was made of a cashew cream base that was way too runny -- it was nothing like fondue and it had very little flavor. Very disappointing. Another -1.
For my entree, I ordered the Jamaican Jerked Cluck (all of the fake meat is named by the sound the animal makes) along with a house salad. I was served fries instead and had to request the salad I had already paid extra for. Ugh. I finally got my salad and dug in. The sandwich really wasn't that flavorful. The fake chicken balls were good, but the spice wasn't there. Jamaican Jerk is supposed to be really spicy and this wasn't. It was so disappointing.
The owner stopped by to talk to us probably because I was taking pictures of my food, which always attracts some attention. He said that almost everything is made in-house including the breads, which I really appreciate. The fake meats and desserts were the only items not made in-house as the desserts come from Wholesome Bakery. I told him I was expecting the sandwich to be spicier and he mentioned they had two housemade hot sauces available. I ordered the extra spicy habanero sauce. Now, that sauce is burn-yo-ass-off hot and very good.
I have to say that the salad, sadly, was the best part of the meal. It was loaded with fresh greens, spinach, raisins, cucumbers, and sunflower seeds with a delightful house dressing.
Zach ordered the Cluck Avocado Club with Beyond Meat, a new faux meat product that is being described as the closest thing to real chicken ever. And I would have to agree. I liked the Beyond Meat, but it was a little scary eating something that was so similar to chicken. The texture and the taste were just like chicken -- many say it is even better than chicken. Beyond Meat has the potential to change the world, but I digress. Overall, besides the Beyond Meat, the sandwich wasn't anything special. But, Zach liked it.
In the end, I felt like I had been jipped a multi-dimensional dining experience. What I got was a one-dimensional experience with food and drinks that needed more flavor. The ambiance left much to be desired as well as the dining room was very plain. In a city with tons of vegan options, this restaurant shouldn't be at the top of your list. I really appreciate what they are trying to do and that the food is very fresh, but as a restaurant, the food also has to taste good. Next time, we'll go to Herbivore instead.
11 Division Street
San Francisco, CA 94103